Anya beams at the bridal shop saleslady, and greets her as if she is her old bosom-buddy. Maybe she is, Anya has certainly put in enough hours of wedding preparation. Willow smiles brightly at her too. //I want to go home. I could go home and just stay in bed all day.// While the saleslady gets out the adjusted wedding dress for Anya to try on, Willow sits down on a low stool in polished wood, discretely placed against the wall, next to a low table with a silk-flower arrangement and some dress catalogues. The off white cushion is rough like sack-cloth. That and the stone tile floor is probably a feeble attempt to counterweigh the overwhelming frilly, satiny racks of dresses. //I can't stay in bed, it's all wrinkly and uncomfortable.// It was cold when she got in it last night. She hadn't felt like making it this morning.
Anya comes out of the dressing room, and twirls. Willow smiles at her, and nods in approval. It fits. Anya smiles back, her eyes shining with happiness. //Insensitive bitch.// She is greedy, brash and selfish, and not good enough for Xander. Xander with the chocolate eyes, the strong shoulders and broad chest you could lean into. //"We're just very good friends who like to hang out, and can I kiss your earlobe?" Smiling at her, with a hopeful, adoring look.// Adoring looks reserved for Anya now. Willow's stomach clenches so hard it hurts.
Anya smoothes her hands down the front of the dress, and preens in front of the mirror, congratulating the saleslady on the excellent fit. Willow wants to rip that smile off her face, gouge it out with her fingernails, leaving a bloody wound.
//Her soft, full breasts pressing against Willow's back, arms tight around her middle.//
Willow tunes her out, and looks idly around the shop. In the window are eight mannequins, six female and two male, like some weird Mormon double wedding. The female mannequins all have big fake-looking hair. One of the guys has a horrible, bristly nylon mustache that sticks straight out in the air, like the hair of a Ken doll. From here you can see the clamps in the back of the dresses, holding them tight into their hard plastic waists. One of them has an odd jagged waistline, from turning blindly towards her future co-wife. The flower girl is the creepiest. All child mannequins always look like Chucky, no matter how big the eyes or how sweet the smile.
//Her long, wavy hair like a waterfall, floating over the bed. Soft, soft velvet channel fluttering around the fingers of her right hand, which are all pruny from Tara's honey. The sweet, musky smell warm like Christmas at Xander's house, only infinitely more delicious. She runs her left hand up and down her spine, feather light, wraps her legs tight around Tara's thigh, pressing herself against her. Nuzzles her breast, feeling the firm nipple against her cheek, moves her mouth slowly up her arched neck. Rubs hard in and out, circling her thumb, and perspiration shimmers over her love's face, so beautiful. She moves her mouth up, and tells her, "beautiful, my love", letting her hot breath gust over Tara's ear. "Wuh... Willow!" And it's her doing this, making Tara shine like this, and a hot bubble of pleasure bursts in her, flooding through her, her convulsions drive her groin hard against Tara's trembling thigh muscle, and
they fall down on the bed getting the air driven out of them. Willow's hair sticks to her face, and she worries she maybe jabbed Tara in the stomach with her elbow, but Tara laughs and laughs, and tickles her. "Maybe you shouldn't levitate us when we do this, Honey" she says in her best mom voice, but Willow knows she loves the weightless sensation as much as she herself does.//
Anya's grating voice saying her name distracts her from her thoughts. Willow is her bride's maid because she is Xander's best friend, and that's the only reason Anya picked her. She would have liked Buffy and Dawn to be bride's maids too, to have a proper wedding entourage, but then who would be the guests? She has no family, and Xander has only invited his closest relatives out of duty. Willow feels sick. She thinks she might throw up if she doesn't get out of here soon. The saleslady looks polite, and answers non-committally. Willow says brightly "Well, maybe I should try on a tuxedo instead of a dress, then. Go as Xander's best man." She puts on her most sincere look. The saleslady clasps her hands in front of her and tries to look helpful and non-judgmental, and Anya nods eagerly. That's what she told him too, but he said best men were traditionally *men*, and besides he wanted Jesse to be his best man. And since that was impossible, he'd rather not have any. Anya looks somber, and falls silent. Then she adds kindly that having Willow as her bride's maid is symbolic of their new, closer relationship. After all, she will be like a sister-in-law for her.
It's easy to see why Xander loves Anya so much. She is so honest and real in her emotions. The relieved saleslady hands Willow the bride's maids dress, which has been taken in at the waist, and had the hemline raised. Willow steps into the changing room, and undresses quickly. Anya's like a child really, she covets everything shiny and pretty, but is also infinitely generous. She wants everyone to share her joy. //Dawn, smiling bemusedly as the bills flutter around her like snow, Anya glowing with joy "Here, have some money!", leaning into Xander, their love a tangible presence.// She wants her bride's maid to look as pretty as she does, to make everything about the wedding the best ever. It's not the style Willow would have chosen for herself, but she can tell it's definitely her color. The pale peach gives her skin the warm tone of polished ivory, and brings out the Miss Clairol in her hair. //Sticky, soft hair redder that hers, gently brushing her face, smelling of hair gel as he kisses her collarbone. Gone.//
She contorts her arms behind her back to close the fiddly little hook that'll keep the zipper from sliding down, like one of those little Chinese girls who tie themselves in knots. At least Willow doesn't have to balance an entire tea set on her head while she's doing it. She strains, turns her back to the mirror and cranes her neck, feels like she's about to pop a shoulder out of the socket. //No extra pair of loving hands to help her.// Finally she snags it, and turns back around to adjust the dress, which has ridden up, and steps on the hem. She nearly trips, but then doesn't. When she looks at herself she's flushed, and the color doesn't look nearly so good on her anymore. //Jewel tones and velvety fabrics, round bosom and hips, that fabulous Mother Earth style which is so very feminine. Smiling mysteriously, and caressing her cheek with a hank of dark blonde hair she's idly been playing with.// Done. She pulls aside the curtain, and comes out of the dressing room for inspection, and steps on the hem again. She's developing a headache in addition to the stomach ache, maybe she's been clenching her teeth or something. //Let these excruciating wedding preparations be over with soon, please Goddess, let me go home and *sleep*!//
"It's perfect, Anya, I really like the color and the fit is really good now," she says, matching Anya's content expression. She tries to walk over to the tall mirror to give Anya a little of the preening and showing off the expensive dress she knows she'll enjoy, and steps on the hem. Again. Anya gets a little frown line between her brows. The saleslady hastens to point out that the dress is supposed to be worn with high heels, that's why it seems long. Willow looks down at her feet. Tennis shoes. //Oh.// Anya looks crestfallen at not getting the full effect of the skirt, and the saleslady is quick to diffuse the situation. She has many shoes for their rental customers, and when Willow tells her her size she goes out back and gets a pair.
She brings Willow a pair of white satin pumps. They smell of shoe deodorizer. The brand name stamped in gold letters in the arch is nearly illegible, and the lining in the heel is worn, but other than that they're in very good condition. Willow takes them in her hands, and sits on the sack cloth stool again. She gently caresses the smooth, shiny shoes. Women who can't afford new shoes, or don't feel like buying a pair they're only going to wear for one day rent these. They come here, straight from the beauty parlor where they've been primped, to dress for their wedding, sliding their pedicured feet into these pumps, lifting up their flounced skirts to reveal their silky, shapely legs, admiring the way the shoes look on them. She feels a tingle start deep in her belly, little sparks of electricity dance on her skin, raising the hair on the back of her neck. She takes a deep, steadying breath. Dozens of women. They have walked up the aisle in them, danced in them, then later, they take off the dress, but they leave on the white teddy, and the stockings and shoes, they hook their legs over his back and draw him in, they move together frantically, she digs the heels of these shoes into his back, but he can't even feel it, he's so close, and he kisses her deeply, wetly as they come.
Next day her maid of honor returns the rented shoes to the shop, where they're buffed up, spritzed and. handed. into. Willow's. hands. She is a live current, hooked up to these shoes, if anyone touches her she'll shoot out colored sparks in all directions like the fourth of July. She clears her throat nervously, and bends forward to put them on. The tingle intensifies, and she's completely embarrassed to be wearing these shoes in front of God and everyone! Anyone could look in the shop windows and see her in them. She smiles a really normal, nothing out of the ordinary smile at Anya, starts to say something about the dress, then changes her mind when she thinks she won't get her dry mouth to cooperate. She stands up in them, and the butterflies inside her are flapping their colorful wings so hard she practically floats over to the tall mirror.
The dress looks just right now, showing off her ankles when she takes a step, but she can hardly concentrate on Anya's running commentary, only nods and smiles at intervals. Anya whips out her checkbook to pay for the dresses and alterations, while Willow changes back to her street clothes, shooting glances out of the corner of her eye at the white pumps that stare back at her from the corner of the dressing room where she put them. She hangs the dress on the hanger again, slips the plastic cover over it, picks up it and the shoes and comes out. Anya goes in to change, and the saleslady puts out her hand for the shoes Willow are clutching. "No! err... I mean, you rent these out, right? I haven't got any pumps at home, I would like to rent these for the wedding, please". Willow feels herself go bright red at snapping at the nice lady, and lying to her. She's a terrible fibber. //I must have "pervert" stamped on my forehead.//
She can rent a brand new pair, of the same style if she likes that one, as these are about ready for goodwill anyway. And as the dress is of a popular color this year, they can be dyed to match free of charge. The saleslady is beaming at delivering this good news, and Willow almost gives up, but as the bubbly feeling starts draining out of her, she raises her chin and puts on her resolve face. //You came out to Buffy, you can certainly rent a pair of shoes!// She explains she likes this pair because new shoes tend to give her blisters, and she'll need both a white pair and a pale peach one, because she has another party she's also going to. //Might as well rent the shoes for the wedding too now.// She quickly pays, and stuffs the shoebox and receipt into the pink and white paper bag before Anya comes back out.
They both agree their dress-buying trip was a great success, and share a celebrational banana split before they go home, laughing and cheering each other even more up than they were before. Anya promises to come by with her well-thumbed bridal magazines tomorrow, and Willow is glad to let her plan and dream with her, while everyone else, even Xander is sick and tired of hearing about the wedding. Ahn is so keyed up she never even notices the paper bag, which Willow has put under the table while they're eating. She presses her ankle against it. Later.
The late morning sun shines in the windows. Willow stands in the corner of the room by the door, and stares at where the covers hang down, and hide what's underneath the bed. Dawn is in school. Buffy is at work. The house is empty, and she has no classes today. She takes a hesitant step forward, then rushes the rest of the way, falling to her knees and sliding out the shoebox from where she has hidden it like a dirty secret. She lifts off the lid, carefully pulls aside the crinkly tissue paper, and there they are. The satin gleams dully. Her hands are shaking, and she feels a hot flush run through her. She takes the shoes out, placing them neatly side by side on the bed, then just kneels there, watching them, letting the anticipation grow, turning herself on.
She undresses slowly, the slide of cloth over skin almost unbearably erotic with her heightened sensitivity. Naked, she walks over to the bed, until her knees bump against the side, then *crawls* slowly across it, to the shoes, feeling her breasts sway. Her breath comes in short, sharp gasps, and she's trembling. She sits, spreading her legs, resting her feet on either side of the shoes, then suddenly can't wait any longer, and put them on. They're cool, and she has to arch her feet to slide into them. Maybe she should get some nylon stockings to wear with them, she only has pantyhose. Her crotch throbs insistently, and the wetness slides deliciously down between her buttocks. With a shuddering breath she lies back, and plants her feet wide apart on the bed; she runs her hands very lightly down her torso, not even feeling the skin, only the tingle of her aura, then lifts one foot to admire the white satin pump. Oooh... //Yes, watch me, please. Kiss me while I'm wearing them...// She looks around under heavy lidded eyes, and sees...
She is so cold. Cold all over, in an empty bedroom, all alone. She rips off the shoes, and throws them hard at the wall with an angry sob. The ceiling crashes down on her, and it grows dark.
She doesn't know how much later, nor does she care, she unwraps her cold, cramped arms from around her legs, and lifts her blotched cheek from her knee. She puts on a warm sweater and a pair of old well-worn jeans. She picks up the shoes, and forces herself to inspect them critically, even though it feels like she's holding a slimy frog. There's a scuff mark on one of them, but maybe it won't show so much when they've been buffed. The lady at the shop said they were ready for goodwill anyway, she probably won't care. She puts the shoebox back under the bed for now.
Willow thoughtfully licks the raw cookie dough off her finger, then washes the empty bowl. Raw or baked, which tastes better? There's the sneaky forbidden pleasure of eating it before you're supposed to, right out of the bowl, and there's the warm, crispy on the outside, gooey on the inside, straight from the oven goodness of waiting till the cookies are done.
She has already sent Dawn off to Kirsty's house with a box full, and Buffy breezed through and away to the Magic Box with some more half an hour ago. They're all glad to see her keeping up her spirits, and she is glad too, to do something constructive, and to take the time to help Anya with the wedding preparations. Everyone else is very busy at the moment, with work and school and monsters, and the ex-demon has no one else to turn to.
She hears Anya's cheerful voice calling out for anybody home, and she answers "In the kitchen!" She arranges a batch of still warm chocolate chip cookies on a plate, and pours two glasses of ice cold milk, then check again to see if she set the oven timer when she put in the last sheet. Anya comes into the kitchen, carrying her huge pile of magazines and her yellow legal pad for important wedding notes to force Xander to read. Willow gives her a bright, warm smile. "You're just in time for cookies!" she chirps happily.
Anya puts down her armload on the table, and frowns at the many, many cookies, and at her. Willow widens her smile a fraction. Anya clumsily puts her left arm around her, and with her other hand gently wipes her cheeks. Then she hugs her close.
"I hope you aren't going to make Buffy and Spike be engaged again right now, Willow, because that would detract attention from Xander's and my wedding", she says sincerely, and Willow clutches her skinny form tightly, and laughs, and cries into her bony shoulder.
Anya holds her for a long time.